Construction giant claims hundreds of electricians have signed new 35% pay cut contracts in first week


Unite rank and file activists have reacted with anger and disbelief to a series of messages sent by one of the leading employers in the “sign or be sacked contracts” dispute which has brought widespread unrest to the construction industry.

A newsletter sent to Balfour Beatty workers says more than 370 electricians have signed the so-called “BESNA” contract in the first week since they were sent to more than 1,600 sparks.

The document says: “We have already had a positive response from our employees [to the new contracts] which demonstrates that people understand the importance of BESNA to our business and securing jobs.”

One activist has dismissed Balfour’s claim as “propaganda”.

“We’ll be back at them with more of the same after the holidays,” he said.

The sparks’ Rank and File committee has organised a series of protests, pickets and demonstrations – such as the occupation of a BBC building (above) – since the dispute began. Similar protests are planned for January.

Watch our film report on recent action here:

Balfour Beatty and the other six breakaway companies say they will not halt the process of issuing new contracts, despite talks at the conciliation service ACAS at which Unite demanded the threat of redundancy be lifted from around 6,000 workers to allow talks to proceed to try to resolve the five-month dispute.

The union says the contracts will massively destabilise the £10bn a year construction industry, by undermining safety standards, cutting skill levels and enforcing pay cuts of up to 35%.

The BESNA group has given an indication to ACAS that they may not enforce the 9th January deadline for all signed contracts to be returned. However, Unite says this is unacceptable and is to re-ballot Balfour Beatty members in the New Year over strike action against the BESNA contracts.

It has also warned that it is preparing a strike ballot at two more of the BESNA companies.

The sparks rank and file has called for a second national day of action on 9th January.

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